How to Delete a System File in Windows Vista...Access Denied when in System32

Discussion in 'Performance & Tweaks' started by Jason, Mar 26, 2008.

  1. Jason


    Sep 26, 2005
    Likes Received:
    If you need to delete or overwrite a system file in Windows Vista, you'll quickly notice that you cannot delete system files, even as administrator. This is because Windows Vista's system files are owned by the TrustedInstaller service by default, and Windows File Protection will keep them from being overwritten.

    Thankfully, there's a way that you can get around this. You need to take ownership of the files, and then assign yourself rights to delete or modify the file. For this, we'll use the command line.

    Open an administrator command prompt by typing cmd into the start menu search box, and hit the Ctrl+Shift+Enter key combination.

    To take ownership of the file, you'll need to use the takeown command. Here's an example:

    takeown /f C:\Windows\System32\en-US\winload.exe.mui

    That will give you ownership of the file, but you still have no rights to delete it. Now you can run the cacls command to give yourself full control rights to the file:

    cacls C:\Windows\System32\en-US\winload.exe.mui /G geek:F

    Note that my username is geek, so you will substitute your username there.

    At this point, you should be able to delete the file. If you still can't do so, you may need to reboot into Safe Mode and try it again. For the filename in the example, I was able to overwrite it without safe mode, but your mileage may vary.
    Jason, Mar 26, 2008
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  2. Jason

    Guest Guest

    Why would one want to delete a system file?

    Why would one want to allow malware to circumvent system file protection and
    usurp a user's privilege level to alter or delete a necessary system file?

    You can alter permissions for system files, but it begs the question as to
    whether or not you should. Users are normally blocked out from accessing
    these files in normal run mode for a very good reason: to protect the core
    system from malware.

    Best of Luck,

    Rick Rogers, aka "Nutcase" - Microsoft MVP
    Windows help -
    My thoughts
    Guest, Mar 26, 2008
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  3. Jason


    Jul 1, 2009
    Likes Received:
    Jason: Thanks mate for that info. You are GREAT!

    Your post helped me to delete some faulty saved folder of files on my disk by Vista, which (as an administrator) I couldn't delete, because of some security issues. I've got a message about "insufficient privileges" in order to do that. After your commandlines I simply get rid of it. :D

    Rick: Believe me. There are maaany situations when you need to take over Windows system files and it's not about malware, viruses or whatever. Above, it's just one exception.

    Cheers guys.
    3lncr, Jul 1, 2009
  4. Jason

    Guest Guest

    Well, I have tried all the commands line and nothing I am trying to
    delete the OS from a hard drive which after a backup restore did not
    load Windows, so now I have it on my laptop and I am trying to get rid
    of Vista so I can reload without loosing all my data on the HD.

    Guest, Feb 20, 2010
  5. Jason

    Guest Guest

    You cannot 'get rid of the o/s'
    Your post does not give enough detail to work out what you have done, and
    thus how you would recover
    Guest, Feb 21, 2010
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